In pre-match press conferences, FC Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fàbregas (24) and defender Adriano Correia (27) voiced their thoughts on the impending FIFA Club World Cup final against Brazilian club Santos FC and its star player, Neymar. The two also conveyed their disappointment at David Villa’s injury, the fractured tibia that will see El Guaje operated on this Monday. “We want to dedicate the Club World Cup to Tito Vilanova and Villa,” said Cesc.
When Cesc spoke in Yokohama, he stated he was “here thanks to all the work done by my teammates last season,” adding that “this final is especially exciting because you never know when we’ll be able to play it again.” Though the team won this tournament once before in 2009, Cesc was not a part of that team and recognizes that he and his fellow teammates “want to wear the badge that identifies the champions of the world for a whole season.”
“Time zones and tiredness are no excuse in such an important match,” Cesc dismissed. “You have to get your strength from your head, from your mentality.” Barcelona will need this strength for the much anticipated final between the European and South American champions.
As for the much agonized over Neymar (19), Cesc was calm. “If we have the ball, Neymar won’t be in it [the game]. We’re focusing on ourselves and on Santos globally as an opponent. We won’t change the way we think.” The future of the said young starlet is still unknown, but Cesc insisted on only thinking of the present. “Tomorrow Neymar is just another opponent. He’ll want to score three or four goals. In the future we’ll see what happens to him.”
At the end, “We want to get out there on the pitch and do our best,” confirmed Cesc.
Adriano decided to focus more of his comments on the final game. He, along with Barcelona teammate Dani Alves (28), played with Santos players Elano (30), Paulo Henrique Ganso (22), and Neymar on the national team during this summer’s Copa América. “Everyone’s been looking forward to this game ever since then,” Adriano divulged. “The guys in the squad kept saying to Dani and me: ‘So, you reckon you’re going to be playing Santos, do you?’ We’ve been poking fun at each other saying things like: ‘Let’s go easy against each other, eh?’ Now the game’s actually come around, and there’s no way anyone will be taking things easy. At the end of the day it’s the Club World Cup final.”
Being that Adriano and Alves are Brazilians, they have not hesitated to share their insider knowledge about Santos players with coach Pep Guardiola and the team. “That’s right. The guys in the team want to know how the young lads play. I can tell you, though, that I’m expecting more from them and want to keep on seeing them in the national team in the years to come.”
Adriano became the first defender in Club World Cup history to score two goals in one game and is the tournament’s current top-scorer. “I’ve never scored two goals in one game before,” said the humble defender, though his versatility makes one question if he can be so simply classified by position. “I’ve played in several different positions since I came here: right-back, left-back and in the midfield. Against Al-Sadd I pushed up a little and played almost as an attacker. I’m used to that and I’ve always enjoy getting up front.”
The topic did, of course, eventually shift to Neymar, and Adriano admitted that “we’re going to have to rethink our plans a little because we can’t afford to let the kid get comfortable on the ball.” However, Adriano believes the whole Santos team needs to be taken seriously. “Neymar’s a great lad and there’s no question that he’s the spearhead of what is a very talented team. We know all about the talent of Ganso, Elano, Borges, who scored a great goal with his second touch of the ball in the semi-final [against Kashiwa Reysol], and Danilo, who’s in terrific form. I think it’s going to be a fantastic spectacle.”
Adriano and his Brazilian compatriots “have spoken about the game enough already. The time’s come to go out there and get on with it.”